Nigeria’s colourful jersey at the 2018 FIFA World Cup was one of the world’s most trendy kits, but it would never have made it past the idea stage if the planet’s leading sports company did not come to the country’s rescue
President of the Nigerian Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, has related the story of how the football body could secure a kitting sponsorship deal with sports apparel firm Nike after other notable companies passed up the chance to kit the Super Eagles.
Earlier in his first tenure as the NFF boss, Pinnick discovered the practice of buying jerseys from Adidas for every Nigerian match. This method does not justify the global standing of the three-time African champions.
“The day I cried in the office was the day the general secretary brought me a letter to sign off that Nigeria wanted to go buy jerseys from Adidas for a game, 25,000 dollars,” the former Delta State FA Chairman said, as per PM News.
“I said to myself that how can I be president and Nigeria will buy jerseys to prosecute a game? That is an indictment on me.
“That was how I started the move to get a kitting deal for the Nigerian national teams. I started with Adidas.”
But Pinnick quickly found out that getting a sponsor for the country’s various teams was not an easy task, with the duo of Adidas and Puma showing no interest in taking up the Nigerian deal.
“I went everywhere looking for a solution. I had to go to the former FIFA President because FIFA and Adidas had a relationship.
I begged him to put in words for us for Adidas. I began to wonder why Adidas is hesitating on taking Nigeria, but that is a story for another day. That was how the Adidas story closed.
“I went to PUMA, what I heard at Puma, my mouth can’t say it, I heard all sort of stories. Where do we go from here? Kappa! But I said to myself, Nigeria is a very big country, bigger than Kappa with due respect.”
At last, Nike agreed to sponsor the African giants after Pinnick pulled some slick moves out of his large pockets.
“I prayed and was determined to get Nike even though people say it is very difficult to get. I spoke with my contacts in the US soccer federation, and they spoke to Nike on our behalf.
“I involved some of Nigeria’s ex-internationals like Jay-Jay Okocha and others because Nike was previously with Nigeria, and they still like the likes of Jay-Jay Okocha and the other players.
“I brought them all together to whip up sentiments as well as the US soccer federation, Gulati. Nike finally agreed to come on board, but they said they were not going to pay us a dime, we would give you every other thing, they were only going to offer us kits for all our national teams, and we agreed.
“They tied the contract to specific benefits. For example, if we won the under 17 World Cup, we would get this and that.
If we won the AFCON, we would get this and that. So if you look at what Nike brought, it was valued at over 1 million dollars, the value of the kits they gave us. We celebrated it, and we gave them the chance to do anything they wanted.
“Nike is a company that tries to understand every market they are in and knowing what to give it. They wanted flexibility, and they told us from the get-go. That is how we got Nike.”
And ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Nike’s gamble paid off. Days to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Nike released a stunning beauty to the public, and Nigerians, as well as non-Nigerians, went absolutely mad for it.
It won millions of hearts the world over for its daring and dashing designs, with more than three million people reportedly pre-ordering the shirt.
Nike’s latest works for the African giants, Nigeria’s 2020-21 home and away kit, could even become the talk of the town for many weeks to come, according to early predictions.